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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO - STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD (foreign office travel advice)

Lesvos

Lesvos Holidays

A traditional Greek island with a slow pace, Lesvos sits in the Agean Sea offering beautiful scenery alongside a wonderfully hot climate. The island attracts beach-lovers, history buffs, wildlife spotters and those who want to focus their Greece holidays on relaxation.

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More than a sunny island

Holidays in Lesvos – or Mytilini as it's also known - are about sitting on the shoreline at a seafood taverna listening to the waves. This is particularly rewarding at one of the cluster of resorts in the northwest – Molyvos, Petra and Anaxos - which benefit from spectacular sunsets across the Aegean Sea.

There's also lots to see and do in Lesvos, especially if you like learning about the history of places you visit. From castles to natural hot springs, the attractions here are less about thrills and more about experiences. Peoples in Lesvos know a thing or two about how to make excellent food and drink. As well as tasting it, you can learn how some of the world's best ouzo and olive oil is made at distilleries and museums across the island.

A nature-lovers paradise, the island is brimming with olive groves and has a large bay at the south that many rivers flow into. This means Lesvos is unusually lush and green for such a warm country, attracting lots of rare birds to its wetlands and wildlife all over.

Where to stay in Lesvos

Anaxos
AnaxosView on Map

This quiet village has a long beach with plenty of watersports and tavernas at its edge. You can head to mini island nature reserves just off the coast. An old windmill stands watch on the cliffs which lead north to the towns of Petra and Molyvos.

Molyvos
MolyvosView on Map

With the medieval castle at its centre, you'll find cobbled streets full of antique shops and cafes rolling down towards the harbour and beach. Hugely picturesque, the town is backed by mountains and pine trees. Combined with neighbouring Anaxos and Petra the trio make up a popular tourist area.

Petra
PetraView on Map

This traditional village is split between a busy beach and an old quarter tucked away behind. Perched on a rock high above the village is a church which beckons many visitors. Other popular attractions are the beautifully decorated 18th-century Vareltzidena's House and Women's Cooperative Cafe and shop.

Petra
PetraView on Map

This traditional village is split between a busy beach and an old quarter tucked away behind. Perched on a rock high above the village is a church which beckons many visitors. Other popular attractions are the beautifully decorated 18th-century Vareltzidena's House and Women's Cooperative Cafe and shop.

Skala Kalloni
Skala KalloniView on Map

Skala Kalloni attracts seafood lovers who come to eat the catch from the huge Gulf of Kalloni. At the centre of Lesvos, this town marries a rustic beach with a natural landscape beyond, perfect for spotting birds and turtles in. There's also a quaint harbour nearby, and Kalloni is the perfect place for shopping if you're after some souvenirs.

Quick Tips

  • Greek Orthodox
  • Euro
  • Greek
  • Approx 90,000
  • GMT +2

Miles of sand

The third largest of all the Greek islands, Lesvos has 320 kilometres of coastline brimming with beaches. From the city beach at Molyvos to a huge bay lined with sand at Skala Kalloni, Lesvos holidays offer a variety of places to rest in the sun or take long walks through nature.

Anaxos has a quiet village beach where you can hop in a canoe or pedalo across to a small island nature reserve in the sea. There are many more secluded coves along this stretch of the northwest coast between the popular, but never over-crowded, resorts.

It's worth a trip to the south of the island to the excellent beach at Skala Eressos, which is often cited as the best in Lesvos. Alongside the beach is a lake fed by local springs full of turtles and fish. Monk seals live in the caves here too. On the other side of Lesvos' large southern bay, Vatera is another top pick with seven kilometres of uninterrupted sand.

At one with nature

From hiking up one of Lesvos' mountainous peaks to spotting birds around the central wetlands, the opportunity to immerse yourself in the landscape are plentiful in Lesvos.

Spring is the time to see an array of birds as they migrate from cooler climates and around the salt marshes and plains of the Gulf of Kalloni is the best place to go. Skala Kalloni, at the top of the bay, is an ideal base for wildlife expeditions and you can also enjoy a long beach and quaint harbour, which brings in Greece's best sardines.

Lesvos boasts a unique fossilised forest in the southwest of the island, which was petrified 15-20 million years ago by a volcano. Now a preserved area, it's one of the rarest natural monuments in the world. Well worth a visit, there are six visitor parks in the area and a very good museum.

With lots more in the way of natural wonders, Lesvos also has hot water springs dotted across the island, said to alleviate all sorts of pains and skin conditions. Among them, Eftalou in the north has enclosed baths in a domed building and outside springs you can bathe in for free. Or, if you like it hot, Polichnitos in the south has the hottest springs in Europe.

Oil and ouzo

Olive oil and ouzo production and fishing are the most important industries in Lesvos and you can make some fascinating visits to sample the fruits of these trades.

Learn about the best ouzo in the world at the ouzo museum in Barbayannis, which has a 150-year family tradition. Or visit the ouzo distillery in Petra and sample the aniseed tipple with some mezedes – snacks used to compliment the spirit.

Lesvos' olive oil is also outstanding, with a light texture and refined flavour, making the food it's cooked in here taste particularly good. You can learn more about it at the Agia Pareskavi Olive Oil Production museum for just €3 entry. Even if you're not visiting the industries, ouzo and olive oil is available to buy in stores across the island, with one of the best places being Molyvos' Women's Cooperative.

Historical sights

Lesvos has been inhabited since the Bronze Age and was once only second to Athens as a centre of civilisation, so it has examples of history and ancient architecture everywhere. The two largest towns on the island – the capital Mytilene and charming Molyvos - both have impressive medieval castles dominating the skylines.

Petra is a small fishing village which boasts the 18th-century wonders of Panagia Glykofilousa Church high on a rocky outcrop and Vareltzidaina's House, a mansion which is also a museum. Or travel to Moria to see the well-preserved Roman aqueduct with 17 arches. Package holidays to Lesvos give you the opportunity to explore all kinds of fascinating history.